By Sharon O'Brien
Dietary fiber is the carbohydrate in plants that your body cannot digest.
Though it's essential to your gut and overall health, most people don't reach the recommended daily amounts (RDA) of 25 and 38 grams for women and men, respectively.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber help bulk up your stools and can be used as a food source for good bacteria in your large intestine.
Soluble fiber draws water into your gut, which softens your stools and supports regular bowel movements.
It not only helps you feel fuller and reduces constipation but may also lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Here are 20 healthy foods that are high in soluble fiber.
1. Black Beans
Black beans are not only a great way to give your dishes a meaty texture but also an amazing source of fiber.
One cup (172 grams) packs 15 grams, which is about what an average person consumes per day, or 40–60% of the RDA for adults.
Black beans contain pectin, a form of soluble fiber that becomes gummy-like in water. This can delay stomach emptying and make you feel fuller longer, giving your body more time to absorb nutrients.
Soluble fiber content: 5.4 grams per three-quarter cup (129 grams) of cooked black beans.
2. Lima Beans
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are large, flat, greenish-white beans.
They mainly contain carbs and protein, as well as a little fat.
They're lower in total dietary fiber than black beans, but their soluble fiber content is almost identical. Lima beans also contain the soluble fiber pectin, which is associated with reduced blood sugar spikes after meals.
Soluble fiber content: 5.3 grams per three-quarter cup (128 grams) of lima beans.
3. Brussels Sprouts
The world may be divided into Brussels sprout lovers and haters, but whatever side you're on, it's undeniable that this vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with various cancer-fighting agents.
What's more, Brussels sprouts are a great source of fiber, with 4 grams per cup (156 grams).
The soluble fiber in Brussels sprouts can be used to feed beneficial gut bacteria. These produce vitamin K and B vitamins, along with short-chain fatty acids that support your gut lining.
Soluble fiber content: 2 grams per one-half cup (78 grams) of Brussels sprouts.
Avocados originate from Mexico but have gained popularity worldwide.
Haas avocados are the most common type. They're an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, potassium, vitamin E, and dietary fiber.
One avocado packs 13.5 grams of dietary fiber. However, one serving — or one-third of the fruit — provides about 4.5 grams, 1.4 of which are soluble.
Rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, avocados really stand out in this regard.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, beta carotene, B vitamins, and fiber. Just one medium-sized sweet potato packs over 400% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin A.
Therefore, sweet potatoes can contribute significantly to your total soluble fiber intake.
Soluble fiber content: 1.8 grams per one-half cup (150 grams) of cooked sweet potato.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that grows well in cool seasons. It's usually dark green, but you can also find purple varieties.
The high amount of soluble fiber in broccoli can support your gut health by feeding the good bacteria in your large intestine. These bacteria produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate and acetate.
Turnips are root vegetables. Larger varieties are usually fed to livestock, but the smaller types are a great addition to your diet.
Soluble fiber content: 1.7 grams per one-half cup (82 grams) of cooked turnips.
Pears are crisp and refreshing and serve as a decent source of vitamin C, potassium, and various antioxidants.
Due to their high fructose and sorbitol contents, pears can sometimes have a laxative effect. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may need to moderate your intake.
Soluble fiber content: 1.5 grams per medium-sized pear.
9. Kidney Beans
Their characteristic shape gave kidney beans their name.
Kidney beans are a good source of soluble fiber, particularly pectin.
However, some people find beans hard to digest. If that's the case for you, start increasing your kidney bean intake slowly to avoid bloating.
Figs were one of the first cultivated plants in human history.
They're highly nutritious, containing calcium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and other nutrients.
Both dried and fresh figs are great sources of soluble fiber, which slows the movement of food through your intestines, allowing more time for nutrient absorption.
Based on anecdotal evidence, dried figs have been used as a home remedy to relieve constipation for years. While one study found that fig paste improved bowel movements in constipated dogs, human-based research is lacking.
Soluble fiber content: 1.9 grams per one-fourth cup (37 grams) of dried figs.
Nectarines are stone fruits that grow in warm, temperate regions. They're similar to peaches, but don't have the same characteristic fuzzy skin.
Apricots are small, sweet fruits that range in color from yellow to orange, with the occasional red tinge.
Carrots are one of the most popular and tasty vegetables on Earth.
Boiled or steamed, carrots are a key ingredient in many recipes, but they can also be grated into salads or used to make desserts like carrot cake.
With good reason, you may have been told as a child to eat carrots to help you see in the dark.
Carrots are packed with beta carotene, some of which is converted into vitamin A. This vitamin supports your eyes and is particularly important for night vision.
One cup (128 grams) of chopped carrots contains 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, 2.4 of which are soluble.
Since many people enjoy this vegetable daily, it can be a key source of soluble fiber.
Apples are one of the most commonly eaten fruits in the world. Most varieties are quite sweet, but others like Granny Smith can be very sour.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is an old proverb that may have some truth, as eating this fruit is associated with a lower risk of many chronic diseases.
Apples pack various vitamins and minerals and are a good source of the soluble fiber pectin. Apple pectin may have many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and improved gut function.
Guavas are a tropical fruit native to Mexico and Central and South America. Their skin is typically green, while the pulp can range from off-white to deep-pink.
This fruit has been shown to reduce blood sugar, as well as total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in healthy people. In part, this may be due to the soluble fiber pectin, which can delay the absorption of sugar.
16. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are tiny brown, yellow, or golden seeds.
They pack a nutritious punch and can be a great way to improve the nutrient content of your smoothies, breads, or cereals.
Sprinkling 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds over your porridge can add an extra 3.5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein to your breakfast. They're also one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fats.
If possible, soak ground flax seeds overnight, as this allows their soluble fiber to combine with water to form a gel, which may aid digestion.
Soluble fiber content: 0.6–1.2 grams per tablespoon (14 grams) of whole flax seeds.
17. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great nutritious snack and often purchased already shelled to reveal the tasty sunflower heart.
They contain about 3 grams of dietary fiber per one-fourth cup, 1 gram of which is soluble. What's more, they're rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, magnesium, selenium, and iron.
Hazelnuts are a delicious type of nut that can be eaten raw or roasted for a stronger flavor. They're also often used as an ingredient in chocolate bars and spreads.
Partly due to their soluble fiber content, hazelnuts may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Oats are one of the most versatile and healthy grains around. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, scones, flapjacks, or fruit crumbles.
They contain beta glucan, a form of soluble fiber that's associated with reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and improved blood sugar control. It's estimated that 3 grams of oat beta glucan per day can reduce your risk of heart disease.
About 1.25 cups (100 grams) of dry oats contain 10 grams of total dietary fiber. This is divided into 5.8 grams of insoluble and 4.2 grams of soluble fiber, 3.6 of which are beta glucan.
Beta glucan is also what gives porridge its characteristic creamy texture.
Some people may associate barley with the brewing industry, but this nutritious ancient grain is also often used to thicken soups, stews, or risottos.
Like oats, it contains about 3.5–5.9% of the soluble fiber beta glucan, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Other forms of soluble fiber in barley are psyllium, pectin, and guar gum.
The Bottom Line
Soluble fiber is great for your gut and overall health, reducing your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and helping you balance your blood sugar levels.
If you want to increase your soluble fiber intake, it's often best to start slowly and build it up gradually.
It's also a good idea to drink plenty of water. This will help the soluble fiber form a gel, which aids digestion and prevents constipation.
All fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes contain some soluble fiber, but certain foods like Brussels sprouts, avocados, flax seeds, and black beans are the cream of the crop.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.
Soil can act as a natural "carbon sink." Climate Central, 2019
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By Shelly Miller
The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.
It’s All About Fresh, Outside Air<p>The safest indoor space is one that constantly has lots of <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">outside air</a> replacing the stale air inside.</p><p>In commercial buildings, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143277/" target="_blank">outside air is usually pumped in</a> through heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. In <a href="https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/how-does-outdoor-air-enter-building" target="_blank">homes, outside air gets in</a> through open windows and doors, in addition to seeping in through various nooks and crannies.</p><p>Simply put, the more fresh, outside air inside a building, the better. Bringing in this air dilutes any contaminant in a building, whether a virus or a something else, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2010.00703.x" target="_blank">reduces the exposure of anyone inside</a>. Environmental engineers like me quantify how much outside air is getting into a building using a measure called the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2013.30" target="_blank">air exchange rate</a>. This number quantifies the number of times the air inside a building gets replaced with air from outside in an hour.</p><p>While the exact rate depends on the number of people and size of the room, most experts consider roughly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0668.2002.01145.x" target="_blank">six air changes an hour</a> to be good for a 10-foot-by-10-foot room with three to four people in it. In a pandemic this should be higher, with one study from 2016 suggesting that an exchange rate of nine times per hour <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1420326X16631596" target="_blank">reduced the spread of SARS, MERS and H1N1</a> in a Hong Kong hospital.</p><p>Many buildings in the U.S., <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12403" target="_blank">especially schools</a>, do not meet recommended ventilation rates. Thankfully, it can be pretty easy to get more outside air into a building. Keeping <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0960-1481(99)00012-9" target="_blank">windows and doors open</a> is a good start. Putting a box fan in a window blowing out can greatly increase air exchange too. In buildings that don't have operable windows, you can change the mechanical ventilation system to increase how much air it is pumping. But in any room, the more people inside, the faster the air should be replaced.</p>
Using CO2 to Measure Air Circulation<p>So how do you know if the room you're in has enough air exchange? It's actually a pretty hard number to calculate. But there's an easy-to-measure proxy that can help. Every time you exhale, you <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12383" target="_blank">release CO2</a> into the air. Since the coronavirus is most often spread by breathing, coughing or talking, you can use <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dd7e/b2870c38f70e5285e5118ed6f158c091f7cf.pdf" target="_blank">CO2 levels</a> to see if the room is filling up with potentially infectious exhalations. The CO2 level lets you estimate if enough fresh outside air is getting in.</p><p>Outdoors, CO2 levels are just above 400 parts per million (ppm). A well ventilated room will have around <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0668.1999.00003.x" target="_blank">800 ppm of CO2</a>. Any higher than that and it is a sign the room might need more ventilation.</p><p>Last year, researchers in Taiwan reported on the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">effect of ventilation on a tuberculosis outbreak</a> at Taipei University. Many of the rooms in the school were underventilated and had CO2 levels above 3,000 ppm. When engineers improved air circulation and got CO2 levels under 600 ppm, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">the outbreak completely stopped</a>. According to the research, the increase in ventilation was responsible for 97% of the decrease in transmission.</p><p>Since the coronavirus is spread through the air, higher CO2 levels in a room likely mean there is a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ina.12639" target="_blank">higher chance of transmission</a> if an infected person is inside. Based on the study above, I recommend trying to keep the CO2 levels below 600 ppm. You can buy <a href="https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-7-3325-2014" target="_blank">good CO2 meters</a> for around $100 online; just make sure that they are accurate to within 50 ppm.</p>
Air Cleaners<p>If you are in a room that can't get enough outside air for dilution, consider an air cleaner, also commonly called air purifiers. These machines remove particles from the air, usually using <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cap.2005.07.013" target="_blank">a filter</a> made of tightly woven fibers. They can <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/miller-leiden-et-al-1996.pdf" target="_blank">capture particles containing bacteria and viruses</a> and can help reduce disease transmission.</p><p>The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that <a href="https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/air-cleaners-hvac-filters-and-coronavirus-covid-19" target="_blank">air cleaners can do this for the coronavirus</a>, but not all air cleaners are equal. Before you go out and buy one, there are few things to keep in mind.</p><p>The first thing to consider is <a href="https://shellym80304.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/air-cleaner-report.pdf" target="_blank">how effective an air cleaner's filter is</a>. Your best option is a cleaner that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0021-8502(05)80214-9" target="_blank">HEPA</a>) filter, as these remove more than <a href="https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2771421" target="_blank">99.97% of all particle sizes</a>.</p><p>The second thing to consider is how powerful the cleaner is. The bigger the room – or the more people in it – the more air needs to be cleaned. I worked with some colleagues at Harvard to put together a tool to help teachers and schools determine <a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NEhk1IEdbEi_b3wa6gI_zNs8uBJjlSS-86d4b7bW098/edit#gid=1275403500" target="_blank">how powerful of an air cleaner you need for different classroom sizes</a>.</p><p>The last thing to consider is the validity of the claims made by the company producing the air cleaner.</p><p>The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers certifies air cleaners, so the AHAM Verifide seal is a good place to start. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board has a <a href="https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/air-cleaners-ozone-products/california-certified-air-cleaning-devices" target="_blank">list of air cleaners</a> that are certified as safe and effective, though not all of them use HEPA filters.</p>
Keep Air Fresh or Get Outside<p>Both the <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions" target="_blank">World Health Organization</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html" target="_blank">U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> say that poor ventilation increases the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.</p><p>If you are in control of your indoor environment, make sure you are getting enough fresh air from outside circulating into the building. A CO2 monitor can help give you a clue if there is enough ventilation, and if CO2 levels start going up, open some windows and <a href="https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/07/17/outdoor-gathering" target="_blank">take a break outside</a>. If you can't get enough fresh air into a room, an air cleaner might be a good idea. If you do get an air cleaner, be aware that they don't remove CO2, so even though the air might be safer, CO2 levels could still be high in the room.</p><p>If you walk into a building and it feels hot, stuffy and crowded, chances are that there is not enough ventilation. Turn around and leave.</p><p>By paying attention to air circulation and filtration, improving them where you can and staying away from places where you can't, you can add another powerful tool to your anti-coronavirus toolkit.</p>
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The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.
On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.
France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.
The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.
"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."
Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.
By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.
The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.
"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.
While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.
"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.
Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.
Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.
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Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).
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By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.
Polyproylene fibers found in one of the sampled sharks. Kristian Parton
Spiny dogfish. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons<p>"There appear to be two routes for these particles to end up in the sharks," Parton said. "The first through their food source [such as] crustaceans. Their prey may already contain these fibers, and consequently it's passed to the shark through bioaccumulation up the food chain. The second pathway is direct ingestion from the sediment. As these sharks feed, they'll often suck up sediment into their mouths, some of this is expelled straight away, although some is swallowed, therefore fibers and particles that may have sunk down into the seabed may be directly ingested from the surrounding sediment as these sharks feed."</p><p>Some sharks only contained a few plastic particles, but others contained dozens. The larger the shark, the more plastic was in it, the findings suggested. The highest number of microplastics was found in an individual bull huss, which had 154 polypropylene fibers inside its stomach and intestines.</p><p>"It's perhaps likely this individual shark had swallowed a larger piece of fishing rope/netting and this has broken down during digestive processes within the shark, and also broken down into smaller pieces during our analysis," Parton said.</p>
Lesser-spotted dogfish caught as bycatch. Kristian Parton<p>While this study only examined the stomach and digestive tracts of demersal sharks, Parton says it's possible that plastic would be present in other parts of the sharks' bodies, such as the liver and muscle tissue. However, more research would be needed to prove this.</p><p>At the moment, there is also limited understanding of how microplastic ingestion would impact a shark's health, although microplastics are known to negatively influence feeding behavior, development, reproduction and life span of zooplankton and crustaceans.</p><p>"If we can show that these fibers contain inorganic pollutants attached to them, then that could have real consequences for these shark species at a cellular level, impacting various internal body systems," Parton said.</p>
Parton in the lab. Kristian Parton<p>This new study demonstrates how pervasive and destructive plastic pollution can be in the marine environment, according to Will McCallum, head of oceans for Greenpeace U.K.</p><p>"Our addiction to plastics combined with the lack of mechanisms to protect our oceans is suffocating marine life," McCallum said in a statement. "Sharks sit on top of the marine food web and play a vital role in ocean ecosystems. Yet, they are completely exposed to pollutants and other human impactful activities. We need to stop producing so much plastic and create a network of ocean sanctuaries to give wildlife space to recover. The ocean is not our dump, marine life deserves better than plastic."</p>
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By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun
After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.
<div id="bb0a7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e5aefc0fff61ab1aea2f4b03c5399864"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1291765757013983238" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The #oilspill is devastating but I want to honour the community mobilisation at the Mahebourg waterfront today (to… https://t.co/UWFkZFdjdi</div> — Fabiola Monty (@Fabiola Monty)<a href="https://twitter.com/LFabiolaMonty/statuses/1291765757013983238">1596815930.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"Booms are made of nylon mesh filled with #sugarcane straws all hand-stitched by Mauritian volunteers, empty plastic bottles used as buoys," described Mauritian journalist Zeenat Hansrod in a tweet. </p>
How to Tackle Oil Spills<p>The method for tackling oil spills depends on several factors, including the type and amount of oil in question, location and weather conditions.</p><p>"Once the oil comes to shore, the more intensive the cleaning technique. You can risk causing further damage," said Nicky Cariglia, an independent consultant at Marittima, who specializes in marine pollution. </p><p>"If you wanted to remove all traces of oil, the techniques available become increasingly aggressive the less oil that remains. In mangroves, you would have the added risk of causing damage by trampling," Cariglia told DW. Highly sensitive mangrove ecosystems line the Mauritius east coast that is threatened by the current spill.</p><p>Because oil normally has a lower density than water, it floats on the surface of the ocean. This means that for clean-up action to be most effective, it should happen very quickly after a spill, before the oil disperses. </p>
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